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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
McNish pumped up for Le Mans test
Allan McNish
McNish driving the Audi R10 in Florida earlier this year
Scot Allan McNish is confident his Audi team can see off rivals Peugeot and keep up the team's winning run in the Le Mans 24 Hours race this weekend.

Audi are chasing a seventh win in eight years and the race will be dominated by the fight between their ground-breaking diesel car and Peugeot's new one.

The race, staged on public roads in north-west France, is one of the most prestigious in motorsport.

"We've as good a chance as we've ever had," said ex-Formula One star McNish.

"But the whole team has to be beating the drum for 24 hours. If not, someone else will and you'll come second."

Since 1999, Audi have won the event every year except 2003, when Audi's sister team Bentley took the honours.

When you cross the line, there's no happiness, just a case of 'thank goodness it's over'

Allan McNish

Last year, Audi broke new ground with the first diesel-powered winner, driven by Frank Biela, Marco Werner and Emanuele Pirro, and McNish says he rates their chances of more success.

"We've got a good car - it's better than last year - I've got good team-mates (Dindo Capello and record seven-time winner Tom Kristensen) and we've had good preparation, so I'd say there is nervous anticipation," he said.

The Scot was one of the last non-Audi winners, driving for Porsche in 1998, and he said it was only when he stood on the podium that he realised just why the event is so highly regarded.

"When you cross the line, there was no happiness, just a case of 'thank goodness it's over'.

"When I stood on the podium, then I felt 'this is good.'

"Standing next to me was Bob Wollek, who was second in his final year. He'd won everything in sportscars except Le Mans, and he was crying because his last chance had gone."

Peugeot also enjoyed success at Le Mans before the era of Audi dominance, winning in 1992 and 1993, but the French team has not competed since then.

This year they have returned with two cars, as against Audi's three, and their driving line-up includes four drivers who have previously competed in Formula One - but none of whom has previously raced at Le Mans.

Jacques Villeneuve
Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is driving for Peugeot

Their highest-profile driver is ex-Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who is racing at Le Mans for the first time.

Peugeot's 908 has looked impressive on its outings so far, but has only competed in Europe, and has yet to go head-to-head with Audi's R10.

But pre-race testing suggests that the German outfit may be given a serious run for their money this year.

Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, the dominant force in the US-based Champ Car series, has set a new lap record for the 8.5-mile course, in a time of three minutes 26.707 seconds.

With the big two teams dominating the field, the other competitors are likely to be left fighting among themselves.

One to watch out for is the Pescarolo team, run by four-time race winner Henri Pescarolo.

First qualifying for the race takes place on the evenings of Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 June, with the race starting at 1500 BST on Saturday 16 June.



SEE ALSO
Villeneuve handed Le Mans chance
10 Jan 07 |  Motorsport
Le Mans plans diesel restrictions
13 Jul 06 |  Motorsport
Audi claim historic Le Mans win
18 Jun 06 |  Motorsport
Audi out to make Le Mans history
13 Dec 05 |  Motorsport


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